This is the biggest scam around. We were taught, since the 1960’s that fat was to be avoided. Now that recent research has cleared that stinkin’ thinkin’ up, we still see recipes calling for low fat cheese, low fat milk, low fat yogurt. WHY?!? Because habits are hard to break! Yes, it is ok to eat low fat cheese and yogurt, but NOT if you choose one that has had carbs added to make up for the taste of taking the fat out! That’s how food companies get low fat/non-fat items to taste better. Additives, carbs and thickeners. (chemicals!)
I’m going to pick three common foods and compare them side by side. Full fat is often better, keeps you full longer, and won’t spike insulin. Dr. Atkins had some of it right, and with the exception of avoiding dairy, I basically eat a low carb diet.
Example 1: Peanut Butter
Low Fat Peanut Butter is a joke, because they add sugar to make it taste better. Check out these three brands: #1 is regular JIF. #2 is reduced fat JIF. #3 is Smuckers natural — pure peanuts and salt. Which one do you think won’t spike your insulin? That’s right, the natural peanut butter, which clearly has the lowest carbs and sugars. The reduced fat is WORST. Compare the sugars, carbs and calories. Do the math.
Example 2: Low Fat Granola
Most types of granola—”low fat” or not—sneak in sugar with names like brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. In fact, a serving of granola (just half to two-thirds of a cup) can have 17 grams of sugar. And they remove the nuts to make it low fat, so guess what? That fiber that the nuts had, which slows down the absorption of sugar is gone, so whammo! Sugar spike! This super sweet start to your day will leave you with a blood sugar crash that has you reaching for snacks long before lunch. Read more about low carb options for breakfast here. If you love granola, make my recipe from scratch. No chemicals, and I guarantee you, it will never sit around long enough to spoil! Best option: plain greek yogurt with fresh berries and a few nuts. That WILL hold you until lunch. Speaking of yogurt…
Example 3: Low Fat Yogurt vs. Plain Greek Yogurt vs. “light” yogurt
Although I don’t eat dairy, I’m adding it in here as an example. Yogurt is one of the most popular things in stores. One of our local grocery stores has over 80 different yogurts! Many people think that when they choose yogurt, they’re “picking healthy”. Not so fast. You may — or you may be sabotaging yourself! Let’s take a look.
First, Greek Yogurt in general has more protein and a higher viscosity than regular yogurt, as it has had more water removed. In general, greek yogurt is healthier, and has double or even triple the protein. I think either PLAIN greek yogurt below are good choices (full fat or nonfat). The two in the second row? Not so great: Here’s where you need to get savvy. What are the INGREDIENTS? Look at the carbs and sugars, then read the ingredient list. Clearly, the WORST yogurt here is the strawberry nonfat greek, with the Dannon “light and fit” a close second. So, my point? Eating lowfat sugar free is not the best, both for satiety and wellness.
STAY AWAY: no milk protein concentrate, no thickeners, no rbST, no additives like sugar, corn starch, “natural flavors”, xanthan gum
LOOK FOR: Organic, grass fed or pasture yogurt, plain, (and if you really need fruit, add fresh fruit and a bit of stevia for a sweetner), Live active cultures (s. thermophilus, l. bulgaricus, l. acidophilus, bifidus, l. casei).
Read your labels people. They can definitely keep you out of trouble. For another post on this, see Label Lessons, Learned the Hard Way.